Vincenzo Montella has turned a less than mediocre Milan team into one that is in a good position to compete for a Europa League spot. Where will the Rossoneri find themselves at the end of the season?
Milan have an easy schedule from here on out, arguably the easiest of the four squads competing for the Europa League. They’ll face Empoli and Crotone, then to a tougher stretch against Roma and Atalanta, and end off the season against Bologna and Cagliari. If they get the results they should against the four easier teams and get a couple of points against the better ones, it would be a great finish, one that could see them to go as high as fourth place. Unfortunately, that hasn’t really been the case for Milan this year. They’ve slipped up on some important matchups against lower-tier teams, but they’ll need to capitalize here if they wish to solidify their position in European football.
Milan’s side is fully healthy. Well, at least besides star player Giacomo Bonaventura. The side certainly isn’t stellar, but it’s gotten them to where they are. They have a better roster than any of the teams they’ll face barring Roma and perhaps Atalanta, so their pretty average squad shouldn’t have too much of an effect on them. Donnarumma is struggling, but the youngster should return to his normal super self in the coming weeks. While striker Carlos Bacca has fallen into a bit of a slump, their attack has gained a great weapon in Gerard Deulofeu. Unfortunately for Milan, it looks as though Barcelona are interesting in excercising their option to sign the Spaniard. Nevertheless, the introduction of the Chinese means that Milan should make quite an improvement over the summer and push for a Champions League spot.
Inter, who currently sit one place below Europa League qualification, have a much more difficult schedule than Milan, having to play Fiorentina, Napoli, and Lazio to close out the season, along with a couple of good teams like Sassuolo and Udinese. As long as Inter don’t sweep their competition, it should be safe to say that Milan has a great chance at qualifying for the Europa League.
Atalanta also have a pretty easy schedule, but they do have to face league leaders Juventus, and they’ll go head to head with Milan as well. If Milan can win that matchup, they’ll gain three points on Atalanta, enough to bridge the gap that currently sits between the two sides. They’ll have to play well to beat Atalanta, but they can certainly do it.
Lazio also have quite a difficult final stretch. They’ll face Juventus, Fiorentina, and Inter to close out the season, and although they are four points ahead of Milan, a couple of slip ups could see them fall fast. Luckily, the gap between fourth and sixth makes no practical difference, and if they can win the Coppa Italia, they’ll be automatically qualified for the Europa League.
My prediction for Milan? Fifth. I think Milan can certainly aim for fourth place, but the inconsistency problems of this season worry me, and fifth is above the expectations I had earlier this year. If they can get the results, I think fifth would be a good showing, and the Chinese can certainly build upon it over the next years.
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